Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Easy Weeknight Meal: Mexican Pizza

I feel like I am saying this every week, but this one is going to be a busy one. And hopefully it's the last busy one of the summer! The kids are officially done school tomorrow and The Oldest is graduating high school tomorrow (cue the mom waterworks). The end is in sight but to get to the easy breezy weeks that summer brings, I need to get through this week.

Lemon Blueberry Mousse Dessert

small bites dessert

My family is made up of horse racing aficionados so when the Kentucky Derby took place over the weekend, our house was bursting with excitement to see which horse would eventually get to wear the garland of roses! Always Dreaming took the top honour and my new dessert creation, lemon blueberry mousse did as well!

My "Oops" Southern Banana Bread

banana bread recipe

So first things first, why on earth is this called My "Oops" Southern Banana Bread. It's quite simple really. I found a wonderful and simple banana bread recipe in a Southern Living "Our Best Recipes" book from 1971 that I bought at a vintage shop years ago. The recipe was rather large as it was meant for two bread pans. I was making this banana bread for two little boys at the time so I decided to half the recipe. Seems pretty easy right? I made sure to half each and every ingredient...except for the butter. I accidentally added the full amount of butter and totally forget to half it! I mean, more butter is always better so this accident was a very happy one and for the last 10 years I have been making this recipe with double butter and I suggest you do as well! 

#CTLCookieExchange - Gingerbread People


I selected this week's #CTLCookieExchange, gingerbread people, because at the end of last week, I was off to a cookie exchange with some of my favourite people for our first annual cookie exchange. My original intention was to create gingerbread people that can hang off your mug and I thought I could just modify a regular gingerbread cutter for that. You can tell I'm not an engineer. After a few batches of trying to hook one arm of the dough, I realized (thanks Google) that there are cookie cutters for just the purpose. Oh well, there's always next year. But all was not lost! I continued on and made some of the cutest gingerbread people that sprinkles and icing could make.

#CTLCookieExchange - Raspberry Oatmeal Bars


For the fourth week of the #CTLCookieExchange we are shaking things up and baking bars instead of traditional cookies. Raspberry Oatmeal Bars to be precise! These bars are chewy, sweet and smell a-mazing coming out of the oven. They need to cool completely in the pan before cutting, which is actually the hardest part about baking these bars - waiting to eat them! The raspberry oatmeal bars are made with only six ingredients, all of which you probably have on hand. They take about 10 minutes to prepare, 35 to bake, and another 20 to cool so in about an hour you have a homey tasting bar ready to share...or eat all to yourself. No judgement here! They also freeze beautifully so you can save them for the holidays or leave one out to enjoy with a cuppa tea. 

#CTLCookieExchange - Hershey Peanut Butter Blossoms


It's week three of our #CTLCookieExchange and while last week I promised a more grown up cookie...The Youngest just returned from his adventures in Europe and the first thing he, and his big brother asked for, was these Hershey Peanut Butter Blossoms! How could I say no to these cute little (okay, not so little) teenagers! One request from them and I was off to the store looking for the largest pack of Hersey Kisses I could find (I bought two packs of 200g).

#CTLCookieExchange - M&M Sugar Cookies


Welcome back to the second cookie in our #CTLCookieExchange. Today we are again visiting one of my family's favourite cookies, but this time with a twist. These were my boys favourite cookies when they were very, very small (as opposed to them being very, very big now. They are both taller than me!). These cookies have always been a hit with little ones and if you have a few new parents in your mix, I know they will appreciate having a cookie that the kids will like. Because who doesn't like a sugar cookie with chocolate chips and M&M's? Nobody, that's right! I printed this recipe and kept it sandwiched in a notebook where I keep all my printed recipes and the date on it is 2005. Seriously, I've had this printed recipe for 11 years and still make these cookies every Christmas.

Celebrating This Life Cookie Exchange


Welcome to a new weekly series here on Celebrating This Life, a virtual cookie exchange! The invites are rolling in for an afternoon of swapping Christmas treats (and hopefully some cocktails!) and I have to say, I am loving the renewed interest in this festive activity. If you have not yet been invited to an IRL cookie exchange, start one! I remember my mom attending a few and as a youngster with a heavy sweet tooth, I always looked forward to taste testing the treats her friends made. It was an opportunity to try something entirely new! I still remember the first time I ate a rum ball and thinking it was the greatest thing in the world! They were not a usual treat in my family so this cookie exchange really broadened my cookie horizons.

This Christmas season I am taking some time for myself and have committed to baking one new cookie each week to bring to a cookie exchange, share with my work colleagues (they're going to love me!), or just to feed to my boys (AMH is not a sweets guy). I will be sharing the recipe and how best to package them every Wednesday from now until New Year's so make sure to come back and try out a new recipe for your cookie exchange!

*Rules for a successful cookie exchange

- Each invitee must bake one type of cookie for sharing (not a mixture of cookies)
- Cookies are to be packaged in one dozen units
- Bake an extra dozen to be sampled at the party
- The host must share the final RSVP numbers. This will determine how many dozen to bake (10 guests = 11 dozen cookies)
- Prepare for an afternoon of fun!


I am starting with an old family favourite, Lime Meltaways. It is always the first cookie I make of the season and because they are The Oldest's favourite (and he eats like a horse) I always end up making a few batches. The recipe below will yield 5 dozen and to ensure the flakiness of each cookie, I do not recommend doubling the recipe (I tried once and it just wasn't the same). They are so easy to prepare that even if you need to make 4 batches, it shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes. Once the dough is ready, they pop in the freezer for an hour and then you only need to slice, bake, and coat in powdered sugar to finish. I love popping the lime meltaways in clear baggies with colourful ribbons. They are easy to make, easy to package, and even easier to eat. Your fellow cookie exchangers will be thrilled with these melt in your mouth cookies.


The ingredients for lime meltaways are simple. Stick to fresh limes and the best vanilla you can find and you will be rewarded with the most flavourful, melt in your mouth cookies.

Lime Meltaways

Original recipe from Martha Stewart

Yield 5 dozen

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice - approx. 2 limes
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1. Put butter and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest and juice and vanilla, and mix until fluffy.


2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Add to butter mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined.


3. Divide dough in half. Place each half on an 8-by-12-inch sheet of parchment paper. Roll in parchment to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour.


4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove parchment from logs; cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space rounds 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.


5.Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Allow to cool before packaging in clear baggies. 


Don't forget to share your creations on social media and tag your photo #CTLCookieExchange. I'll be sharing some of your creations here on the blog for everyone to see! Happy baking! 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup


Before heading out on last weekend's road trip up north, I made a pot of roasted butternut squash soup to bring with us. The soup is everything you want in a fall lunch - thick, tangy and sweet. It travels well in a thermos and tastes even better the next day. I posted a how-to on my Instagram Stories and now I am sharing the recipe below. Enjoy!

Pickled Garlic Jalapenos


It's pickling season at my house! This is the first year of our vegetable garden (look for that in a future blog post) and at this point we are harvesting every weekend. We have 12 tomato plants, a gigantic cucumber plant (unfortunately with only male flowers, so no cukes this year), lots of herbs, peppers and our especially well producing jalapeno plants. Since the beginning of September we have been harvesting our jalapenos each weekend (and a few times in between for dinner) and have spent some time during the weekend pickling them.

Grilled Peach Dessert

peaches, celebrating this life

Looking for a quick and easy weeknight dessert your family will love? Them look no further than this incredibly easy grilled peach dessert! The only tool you really need is a BBQ! 

peaches

It's peach season here in Ontario and nothing beats a fresh from the tree Niagara peach. The kids and I stopped by a local farm stand to pick up a basket, or two, and have been enjoying this years crop with our lunches, as a snack, and now as a dessert! 

peaches and ice cream

There are so many complicated dessert recipes and while that usually won't prevent me from baking (although I still have not attempted making my own macarons!), on a weeknight I just want something easy. The kids are still on summer holidays but that doesn't mean our house is any less busy! The Oldest works a part-time job and volunteers and The Youngest has music lessons three nights a week! Add in both parents working full-time and two big dogs who constantly want a walk, there really isn't a lot of time to be fussing with a dessert (I'm lucky if we actually cook and don't end up with a pizza most nights ha!). This easy grilled peaches dessert only requires some of those fresh peaches, ice cream and a loaf of pound cake. You can make your own pound cake or pick up a store bought one like I did.  


Make sure to wash the peach fuzz off your peaches and dry them well before starting. Using a paring knife, run the knife along the stone pit of your peach. Twist to separate and pop, or dig, the pit out of the other half of your peach. Brush the cut side of the peaches lightly with canola oil. 


Place on a hot grill (ours was heated up from our dinner) and leave for 3-4 minutes. Turn to create a grill pattern and leave for another 3-4 minutes. The heat warms up the fruit and intensifies the sweetness. 


So if this were a tv show the grill patterns would be perfect but this is real life and I have used a BBQ like twice in my whole life, so no fancy grill marks here. Doesn't matter, you are only putting ice cream on it anyways! :D

grilled peaches

A slice of pound cake, a grilled peach and a scoop of ice cream. That's it! From the second you start this recipe until you plate, it takes about 10 minutes total. It took me longer to do all the dishes from dinner! 


I like to make sure to have a little bit of each item in every fork full. The peaches were all warm and sweet, the pound cake gave you something to chew and the ice cream, well it's ice cream so it's already awesome. While peach season is still on I am going to try this a few more times (maybe I'll get those grills marks down!) and I'm thinking of ways to try and make it a little lighter on the calories. I'm going to try just a peach half on it's own, or add a few tablespoons of greek yogurt. The peach season is so short, I just want to enjoy it while it is here! 

Are you enjoying peach season? If you have any tricks for getting the grill marks, fill me in!

Cinco de Mayo


Happy Cinco de Mayo! Did you know that today marks the Mexican army's victory (appearatly an unlikely one) over the French army in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862? There is a great write up on it here if you're interested. Who knew the day meant more than an excuse for tacos and margaritas?!?!

Today, I'm sharing a dinner I made for my Mexican-food loving family over the weekend. It's the perfect dinner for a Cinco de Mayo party and can easily be doubled or tripled depending on how many people you have. Oh, and in keeping with any recipe I ever post here, it is super easy and uses typical ingredients you already have. When you're a mom, blogger, full time worker, part time student and forever traveller, you only have so much time to prepare family meals! Without further ado, here is a simple recipe for chicken fajitas with all the fixings! 


Simple is the name of the game here. 

Chicken Fajitas (can easily be doubled)

1 Package chicken breast (approx 4 breasts)
1 package taco seasoning
3 limes

Place chicken breasts into a ziploc bag. Sprinkle taco seasoning on the chicken breasts. Squeeze 3 limes and add the juice to the ziploc bag. Seal the ziploc bag and move the contents around to evenly coat. Let sit, in the fridge, for 30 minutes to overnight. 


I'm not kidding, it doesn't get any more complicated from here on out. While the chicken breast is sitting, use this time to prepare your fillings and make yourself a margarita!


I sliced 2 red peppers, 1 green, 1 yellow and half a white onion. I added a tablespoon of sunflower oil (my new favourite oil to cook with) and some salt and pepper. I cooked these on a frying pan over medium high heat until the were soft and brown in a few places. 

*Not pictured - Using my small rice cooker, I prepared a package of Mexican rice. Also, I made a simple guacamole with two avocados, 1/4 finely chopped white onion, juice of 1 lime and salt and pepper to taste.  


You can cook the chicken one of two ways; the BBQ or oven.

BBQ - Grill at for 6 minutes, each side, until no longer pink and internal temperature is 165.
Oven - Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes, until no longer pink and internal temperature is 165. The high heat/shorter cooking time will prevent the chicken from drying out.


Slice the chicken, set the table with your sides and that's all she wrote! 

With our fajitas we like to have salsa, a variety of hot sauces, sour cream, pre-shredded cheese, sliced green onion, rice, guacamole, jalapenos, and hard and soft taco shells.  


A simple weeknight dinner to celebrate Cinco de Mayo! 

Avocado Toast


I am not a morning person. I don't like having to get out of my comfy bed or having to rush around getting ready for another day at work. I dislike being rushed and no matter what time I get up in the morning, I am always running late. I've looked to simplify my morning routine to try and get out of the house on a better foot. I have heard so much about avocado toast lately that I assumed it was some revolutionary brunch item that only trained chefs can prepare. Not true at all. It is now my go-to breakfast item, even the mornings when I am still running late (although I do prefer to have it on the weekends when I can relax).


Simple ingredients is all you will need -- Bread, butter, avocado, eggs and salt and pepper. 


To a frying pan, add a teaspoon of butter and fry an egg to your preference. Half an avocado and wrap, with the pit still intact, with cling wrap. The pit will help prevent the avocado from browning. Save for tomorrow's breakfast. 


Mash the avocado to your preference, I like mine very mashed. Add salt and pepper. I am loving the pink Himalayan salt grinder I bought from Farm Boy. It lends a subtle salty flavour. 


Toast your bread, spread the avocado mash and top with the fried egg... 


...and enjoy! A simple to prepare breakfast of avocado toast. I worked out the calorie count on my Lose It! app and it is approximately 280 calories. Avocados have so many health benefits and my favourite one is how full you feel after breakfast. I find I can keep going until lunch when I have avocado toast!

Have you tried this new fad yet? What are your thoughts?

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie


I am not a chef. Let's just get that out of the way. I search new dinner recipes out of food boredom, both my own and my kids. I cook to feed myself and my family but it is not my passion. I am not a chef, but I am a baker. Welcome to my home bakery (which is what I call my kitchen :)


Today, I have set out to discover the best chocolate chip cookie. It's hard work but someone has to do it. Armed with my new Kate Spade apron, and the best chocolate chips, semi sweet Ghirardelli, I vow to find the best chocolate chip cookie in the world! To start I very scientifically (ahem, googled) chose the two top rated recipes on Delish.com - the copycat Levain Bakery cookies and Tate's Bake Shop.


Levain's Bakery has three locations throughout New York City, each equipped with a webcam so you can check out the lines (hint, the line is always long). These thick and cakey chocolate chip cookies seemed like the perfect cookie to start with. I followed the recipe and at step 3 when they call to "form into loose, baseball-sized mounds and place on cookie sheet" I was skeptical that it would properly cook all the way through. If you are going to try this recipe, stick to the instructions. They cook perfectly and have a gentle crunch on the outside with a soft, delicious interior. 


The other contender for best chocolate chip cookie was this recipe for Tate's Bake Shop chocolate chip cookies. They are the exact opposite of the Levain cookies, thin and crisp. Tate's is this adorable bakery in Southhampton, NY that is a household name in the cookie connoisseur business. Luckily  for those of us that do not live in the area, you can find their products on shelves in speciality food shops (Vincenzo's in Waterloo, Ont. stocks a wide variety of their cookies including the gluten free ones!)


To try and suit the different palettes in my family I made one batch with, and one without, sprinkled sea salt. 


The sea salt sets in the cookie during baking and adds a subtle crunch and gentle spike of salty with your sweet chocolate chips. 


Who will win the best chocolate chip cookie challenge? Will it be Tate's Bake Shop thin and crispy cookies on the left or Levain Bakery's thick and cakey cookies on the right?

After conducting some very scientific analysis that involved lots of taste testing by the family and milk palette cleansers, this is my conclusion:

 - The Youngest loved the thin, crispy ones without seas salt

 - The Oldest loved the thick, cakey ones

 - I loved the thin, crispy with sea salt 

...and the one person who could break the tie, the husband, didn't even have any! 

It appears that everyone has their own preference when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. Either way, it was a fun day of baking in the Home Bakery and each recipe yielded wonderfully delicious cookies. It's all a matter of preference on which one is the best. 

Grab a few bags of chocolate chips and try these recipes for yourself. Let me know which one is YOUR favourite!

Copycat Tate's Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookie on Delish.com
Copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookie on Delish.com (I omitted the walnuts)

National Margarita Day

Happy National Margarita Day! 

I would put the margarita at the top of my 'favourite drinks' list and (gasp!) I was very late to the party on this one. I first tried it on a trip to Mexico last Christmas! I know, I know. I still can't believe all the times I have turned down an offer of a margarita. But fear not, I am making up for lost time!

To celebrate this most excellent national holiday (National Margarita Day is celebrated every February 22) I am sharing my favourite recipe for margaritas. This is AMH's recipe and it is simple and delicious. Also, a little birdie once told me his recipe is healthier because he uses fresh ingredients. That was music to my ears!

celebrating this life

All the ingredients you will need for this fresh margarita -- kosher salt, limes, ice, triple sec and tequila.

I know nothing, probably less than nothing, about tequila but luckily, I live with an expert. AMH recommends silver tequila for his margaritas and he really likes Cazadores. He also recommends Don Julio but I drank that all last summer. Oops. 

celebrating this life

Juice a few (3-4) limes into a measuring cup (Williams Sonoma Lime Press $10 The most used gadget in our kitchen!)

celebrating this life

Spread some kosher salt onto a small plate

celebrating this life

Using a lime wedge, wet the rim of your margarita glass (Set of 4 margarita glasses JCPenny for $22)


celebrating this life

Salt the rim


celebrating this life

Add a few ice cubes to your cocktail shaker (Loving this gold polka dot one from Kate Spade for $50, and this Martha Stewart one for $28.99. My shaker with the F.Scott Fitzgerald quote is from Indigo (Chapters) 

Also add:
1oz. silver tequila
1oz. triple sec
1oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 lime wedge

celebrating this life

Cover and shake like your in Cocktail. Mariachi music optional. 

celebrating this life

Pour into your salted margarita glass...

celebrating this life

and enjoy! 

Fresh Margarita


Juice 3-4 limes, cut another into wedges
Wet and salt a margarita glass

To a cocktail shaker add

-Ice
-1 lime wedge
-1oz. silver tequila
-1oz. triple sec
-1oz. lime juice

Shake vigerously
Strain into margarita glass
Enjoy with nachos and guacamole and pretend your in Mexico soaking up the sun. 

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